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Old 05-16-2004, 09:34 PM   #1
e46brian330i
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M3 seat swap into 330i - SO happy...

For the longest time I've wanted sports seats in my 330i, but there were none to be found...then I found some E46 M3 seats on Ebay. I snatched them up, but it turns out the seatbelt attaches differently.

Long story short, I figured out how to swap the seat rails, and now I have M3 seats installed in my 330i. (Note the standard 4-spoke steering wheel but the obviously sports seats).

These seats are sweet. Obviously, they have the extra bolstering like the 3-series sports seats (maybe even more), but in addition, the back bolsters are electrically adjustable. They have more controls and adjustments than I can name. The bottom line, however, is that they plug right in and work like a charm with no problems---so if you have been considering a seat swap, be advised that M3 seats will work in addition to 3-series seats. They're interchangeable, and I'm driving the proof.

The only downside is that the leather is ever so slightly darker than in the 330i, but once installed in the car I can barely even notice. And the improved comfort and especially stability and security while throwing the car around in corners is just great. It's just what I wanted: a 330i with sports seats but no sports suspension or special tires. Ahhhh!!
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Old 05-16-2004, 09:41 PM   #2
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aren't those the sport seats for the 3 series too?
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Old 05-16-2004, 09:41 PM   #3
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Need some more pics, but sounds awesome. That would be a nice set up.
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Old 05-16-2004, 10:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46brian330i
For the longest time I've wanted sports seats in my 330i, but there were none to be found...then I found some E46 M3 seats on Ebay. I snatched them up, but it turns out the seatbelt attaches differently.

Long story short, I figured out how to swap the seat rails, and now I have M3 seats installed in my 330i. (Note the standard 4-spoke steering wheel but the obviously sports seats).

These seats are sweet. Obviously, they have the extra bolstering like the 3-series sports seats (maybe even more), but in addition, the back bolsters are electrically adjustable. They have more controls and adjustments than I can name. The bottom line, however, is that they plug right in and work like a charm with no problems---so if you have been considering a seat swap, be advised that M3 seats will work in addition to 3-series seats. They're interchangeable, and I'm driving the proof.

The only downside is that the leather is ever so slightly darker than in the 330i, but once installed in the car I can barely even notice. And the improved comfort and especially stability and security while throwing the car around in corners is just great. It's just what I wanted: a 330i with sports seats but no sports suspension or special tires. Ahhhh!!

awesome,just awesome i have been waiting to see someone do it and do it right for a loooong time in a 330i. good work i want some too!
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Old 05-16-2004, 10:28 PM   #5
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I did mine already...It's already been done on 323i/325i/328i/330i models? Not sure why everybody thinks this is so new?
'Alan L' did his 323i over a year ago and 'Sansan' did it in his 325xi last year too.. I know there's more out there, just can't remember their screen names

Glad you like it...I know I do too! Nothing beats the smooth, nappa leather.. haha
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Old 05-16-2004, 10:49 PM   #6
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Nick those are some sick rims-- sorry off topic..
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Old 05-17-2004, 08:48 PM   #7
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Well, it makes sense that others have done it---it was only new to me! I should have known I wasn't exactly blazing new trails, but was so excited I had to post about it.

As far as the comment that these may be the same as 3-series sports seats, the M3's are a bit different in that they offer adjustable side-bolsters. I don't think the 3-series sports seats have that option.

I'll post more pics if anybody really wants them, or more explanation. Mainly just wanted to give others the knowledge it's doable.
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46brian330i
Well, it makes sense that others have done it---it was only new to me! I should have known I wasn't exactly blazing new trails, but was so excited I had to post about it.

As far as the comment that these may be the same as 3-series sports seats, the M3's are a bit different in that they offer adjustable side-bolsters. I don't think the 3-series sports seats have that option.

I'll post more pics if anybody really wants them, or more explanation. Mainly just wanted to give others the knowledge it's doable.
i believe the adjustable side bolsters were an option. if it didn't have that option I would imagine it is the same as the 3xx Coupe seats.
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46brian330i
Well, it makes sense that others have done it---it was only new to me! I should have known I wasn't exactly blazing new trails, but was so excited I had to post about it.

As far as the comment that these may be the same as 3-series sports seats, the M3's are a bit different in that they offer adjustable side-bolsters. I don't think the 3-series sports seats have that option.

I'll post more pics if anybody really wants them, or more explanation. Mainly just wanted to give others the knowledge it's doable.
Haha, no problem, glad your enjoying it!

yes, the adjustable side bolsters is an option on the E46 M3 seats. Enjoy!
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:54 PM   #10
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Sounds awesome!! your making me lust for those seats. I wonder if retrofitting power M3 seats to a sedan with no power seats is possible..
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Old 05-17-2004, 10:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffee
aren't those the sport seats for the 3 series too?
you can tell those are M3 seats cuz the regular sports seats don't have the shoulder bolsters like that
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Old 05-17-2004, 11:47 PM   #12
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if you dont mind me asking, how much did those cost you?
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Old 05-18-2004, 03:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codex57
you can tell those are M3 seats cuz the regular sports seats don't have the shoulder bolsters like that
and the M3 seats say ///M on the headrests

Glad you like em...I've had M3 seats in my car for a while now and don't think I could ever go back to regular 3er seats.
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Old 05-18-2004, 03:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@vfive
Sounds awesome!! your making me lust for those seats. I wonder if retrofitting power M3 seats to a sedan with no power seats is possible..
It should be possible. I put power coupe seats in my non power-seat sedan. I had to run my own power and attach the seatbelts a lil differently but I got it working.

If you need some help just let me know and I'll send you over some info.

Later on when I have the time I'll write up a full DIY.
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:35 PM   #15
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I paid a lot for these seats---$1600. Yes, ouch. You might do better, though. I just couldn't find any undamaged ones for less. Once I sat in them, though, the pain of spending that much quickly faded away...

For those that are interested, here are my DIY instructions for putting them in:

In the 3-series, the seatbelt attaches to the rear of the outboard rail, while in the M3 it bolts to a totally separate bracket. So the main problem is how to attach the seatbelts. The answer is to swap the seat rails.

First, obtain M3 seats. Be aware that the leather is slightly different. If you have a gray interior, the M3 seats will be slightly darker, but the difference is much less noticeable once they're in the car. I can't vouch for other colors. My swap was an '01 M3 to a '02 330i.

Also, I carefully checked the wiring harnesses on both cars before buying my seats to make sure they had equivalent pin configurations. I'd advise you do that too.

To install them, you first have to take the original seat out: first, tip the seatback as far forward as it will go (for ease of removal). Then, raise the whole seat up a few inches from its bottommost position and remove the seatbelt. Run the seat backwards and remove the front bolts, then run it forward to remove the rear bolts. Doing it this way leaves the seat in a configuration that won't tip over backwards once you set it on the floor. Lastly, unplug the harness and lift the seat straight out. I put old blankets down around the seat, over the carpet and doorsills to prevent grease marks and possible scratches.

Once the seat is out, I balanced it (at the seat crotch) upside down over a well-padded sawhorse so I could work on the bottom (take the headrest out first so it doesn't rub the floor). Do the same with the M3 seat.

You'll see that both seats are attached to their respective rails by four legs that provide seat height adjustment. These are attached with four nuts and spring clips, which are easily removed, allowing you to swap rails between the M3 seat and your own---with a couple of complications:

First, you have to unbolt the female part of the seatbelt from the seatrail, and unclip its wiring harness from the bracket. You also have to remove the mounting bracket for the other harnesses and detach the one motor from its connector. At that point, you'll be ready to remove the 4 bolts and then the rails, one side at at time.

BE CAREFUL HERE! The M3 seat gave me no problems, but on the 3-series seat, the front legs are spring loaded (serious springs), and once you get the second rail off, those front legs will snap forward hard enough to break a finger. Be aware of that, and don't let a finger get in the way.

Now you simply install the 3-series rails on the M3 seat. This is a relatively minor exercise in getting things re-aligned and bolting them back together. I also installed the M3 rails on the 3-series seat, mostly so I wouldn't lose parts, and so I could store the 3-series seats more easily. Be forewarned, this is much harder because of those spring-loaded front legs, but the good news is, it's also optional!

Once your M3 seat is assembled with 3-series rails, installation is as easy as lifting them back in. Position the seat, plug it back in, run it forward (if needed) to install the back bolts, then run it back to do the front bolts.

At this point, you'll find you can't get to the front bolt. Remove the plastic seat-rail cover and you'll be able to reach them (it unsnaps at the back first, then lifts off). Then, re-install the plastic cover, attach your seatbelt, and repeat everything on the other side.

Brian
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Old 05-19-2004, 12:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickACS
Haha, no problem, glad your enjoying it!

yes, the adjustable side bolsters is an option on the E46 M3 seats. Enjoy!

why is it so hard for me to find a pair?

I've ony been looking for about a year and a half now
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Old 05-19-2004, 12:58 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46brian330i
Once the seat is out, I balanced it (at the seat crotch) upside down over a well-padded sawhorse so I could work on the bottom (take the headrest out first so it doesn't rub the floor). Do the same with the M3 seat.

You'll see that both seats are attached to their respective rails by four legs that provide seat height adjustment. These are attached with four nuts and spring clips, which are easily removed, allowing you to swap rails between the M3 seat and your own---with a couple of complications:

First, you have to unbolt the female part of the seatbelt from the seatrail, and unclip its wiring harness from the bracket. You also have to remove the mounting bracket for the other harnesses and detach the one motor from its connector. At that point, you'll be ready to remove the 4 bolts and then the rails, one side at at time.


Brian

You actually didn't have to do that much work.

AlanL. just drilled out the rivet holding the seatbelt tensioner onto the sedan seat rails and bolted it to the M3 seat rails.

Much less work and headache plus if you ever wanted to put the sedan seats back in all you'd have to do is bolt the tensioner to the sedan seat rails again.

Nice work though and congrats.
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Old 05-19-2004, 01:06 AM   #18
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hmmm... Since it's possible to install lumbar support on non-premium pkg cars, is it possible to also retrofit the adjustable bolsters onto a 330i sports seat?

I really like the adjustable bolsters, but I have the ZHP w/ Alcantara, It'd be a miracle to find a set of black alcantara M3 seats anywhere.
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Old 05-19-2004, 01:25 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46brian330i
I paid a lot for these seats---$1600. Yes, ouch. You might do better, though. I just couldn't find any undamaged ones for less. Once I sat in them, though, the pain of spending that much quickly faded away...

For those that are interested, here are my DIY instructions for putting them in:

In the 3-series, the seatbelt attaches to the rear of the outboard rail, while in the M3 it bolts to a totally separate bracket. So the main problem is how to attach the seatbelts. The answer is to swap the seat rails.

First, obtain M3 seats. Be aware that the leather is slightly different. If you have a gray interior, the M3 seats will be slightly darker, but the difference is much less noticeable once they're in the car. I can't vouch for other colors. My swap was an '01 M3 to a '02 330i.

Also, I carefully checked the wiring harnesses on both cars before buying my seats to make sure they had equivalent pin configurations. I'd advise you do that too.

To install them, you first have to take the original seat out: first, tip the seatback as far forward as it will go (for ease of removal). Then, raise the whole seat up a few inches from its bottommost position and remove the seatbelt. Run the seat backwards and remove the front bolts, then run it forward to remove the rear bolts. Doing it this way leaves the seat in a configuration that won't tip over backwards once you set it on the floor. Lastly, unplug the harness and lift the seat straight out. I put old blankets down around the seat, over the carpet and doorsills to prevent grease marks and possible scratches.

Once the seat is out, I balanced it (at the seat crotch) upside down over a well-padded sawhorse so I could work on the bottom (take the headrest out first so it doesn't rub the floor). Do the same with the M3 seat.

You'll see that both seats are attached to their respective rails by four legs that provide seat height adjustment. These are attached with four nuts and spring clips, which are easily removed, allowing you to swap rails between the M3 seat and your own---with a couple of complications:

First, you have to unbolt the female part of the seatbelt from the seatrail, and unclip its wiring harness from the bracket. You also have to remove the mounting bracket for the other harnesses and detach the one motor from its connector. At that point, you'll be ready to remove the 4 bolts and then the rails, one side at at time.

BE CAREFUL HERE! The M3 seat gave me no problems, but on the 3-series seat, the front legs are spring loaded (serious springs), and once you get the second rail off, those front legs will snap forward hard enough to break a finger. Be aware of that, and don't let a finger get in the way.

Now you simply install the 3-series rails on the M3 seat. This is a relatively minor exercise in getting things re-aligned and bolting them back together. I also installed the M3 rails on the 3-series seat, mostly so I wouldn't lose parts, and so I could store the 3-series seats more easily. Be forewarned, this is much harder because of those spring-loaded front legs, but the good news is, it's also optional!

Once your M3 seat is assembled with 3-series rails, installation is as easy as lifting them back in. Position the seat, plug it back in, run it forward (if needed) to install the back bolts, then run it back to do the front bolts.

At this point, you'll find you can't get to the front bolt. Remove the plastic seat-rail cover and you'll be able to reach them (it unsnaps at the back first, then lifts off). Then, re-install the plastic cover, attach your seatbelt, and repeat everything on the other side.

Brian
$1600? that's cheap bro, of the past 2 sets of m3 seats that i've seen on this forum, they all wanted more than $3000 out of them, so you got a great deal
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Old 05-19-2004, 01:34 AM   #20
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Nice writeup and review Brian!
I think this is what this forum needs more of... even if it has been done before.
This is the first time I've heard of it and possibly for many others too.
Congrats on your nice seats!
The M3 seats definitely hold you in much tighter at the top than regular sport package seats.
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